Aftermath

On 18 April, Carpathia docked at Pier 54 at little West 12th Street in New York with the survivors. She arrived at night and was greeted by thousands of people. Titanic had been headed for 20th Street. Carpathia dropped off the empty Titanic lifeboats at Pier 59, as property of the White Star Line, before unloading the survivors at Pier 54. Both piers were part of the Chelsea Piers built to handle luxury liners of the day. As news of the disaster spread, many people were shocked that Titanic could sink with such great loss of life despite all of her technological advances. Newspapers were filled with stories and descriptions of the disaster and were eager to get the latest information. Many charities were set up to help the victims and their families, many of whom lost their sole breadwinner, or, in the case of third class survivors, lost everything they owned. The people of Southampton were deeply affected by the sinking. According to the Hampshire Chronicle on April 20th 1912, almost 1,000 local families were directly affected. Almost every street in the Chapel district of the town lost more than one resident and over 500 households lost a member.
Once the massive loss of life became clear, White Star Line chartered the cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett to retrieve bodies. Three other ships followed in the search, the cable ship Minia, the lighthouse supply ship Montmagny and the sealing vessel Algerine. Each ship left with embalming supplies, undertakers, and clergy. Of the 333 victims that were eventually recovered, the Canadian ships and five more by passing North Atlantic steamships retrieved 328. Most of the bodies were numbered. The five passengers buried at sea by Carpathia went unnumbered. In mid-May 1912, over 200 miles (320 km) from the site of the sinking, RMS Oceanic recovered three bodies, numbers 331, 332 and 333, who were occupants of Collapsible A, which was swamped in the last moments of the sinking. Several people managed to reach this lifeboat, although some died during the night. When Fifth Officer Harold Lowe rescued the survivors of Collapsible A, he left the three dead bodies in the boat: Thomas Beattie, a first-class passenger, and two crew members, a fireman and a seaman. The bodies were buried at sea from Oceanic.
The first body recovery ship to reach the site of the sinking, the cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett found so many bodies that the embalming supplies aboard were quickly exhausted. Health regulations permitted that only embalmed bodies could be returned to port. Captain Larnder of the Mackay-Bennett and undertakers aboard decided to preserve all bodies of First Class passengers, justifying their decision by the need to visually identify wealthy men to resolve any disputes over large estates. As a result the burials at sea were third class passengers and crew. Larnder himself claimed that as a mariner, he would expect to be buried at sea.  However families and undertakers at sea made complaints about the burials. Later ships such as Minia found fewer bodies, requiring fewer embalming supplies, and were able to limit burials at sea to bodies, which were too damaged to preserve.
Bodies recovered were preserved to be taken to Halifax, the closest city to the sinking with direct rail and steamship connections. The Halifax coroner, John Henry Barnstead, developed a detailed system to identify bodies and safeguard personal possessions. His identification system would later be used to identify victims of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Relatives from across North America came to identify and claim bodies. A large temporary morgue was set up in a curling rink and undertakers were called in from all across Eastern Canada to assist. Some bodies were shipped to be buried in their hometowns across North America and Europe. About two-thirds of the bodies were identified. Unidentified victims were buried with simple numbers based on the order in which their bodies were discovered. The majority of recovered victims, 150 bodies, were buried in three Halifax cemeteries. Much floating wreckage was also recovered with the bodies, many pieces of which can be seen today in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax. Other pieces are part of the traveling exhibition, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

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